EU-Mercosur trade talks close with key gaps remaining
Negotiators for the European Union and Latin American bloc Mercosur have concluded two weeks of talks in Brussels on a free trade deal with no clear breakthrough and no formal offers made.
The two sides’ negotiating teams have agreed to continue discussions in Asuncion, Paraguay, in the week beginning February 19, a Commission spokesman said on Friday.
“There is still some work to be done,” he told a Commission news conference.
The EU signaled last week that it could open up its market to more beef from Mercosur countries Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, raising its potential offer for beef access to 99,000t per year from a previous 70,000t, people close to the talks said.
The people said it was not clear how the tonnage would be split, such as between more expensive chilled and cheaper frozen meat, and whether tariffs would still apply.
Beef has been a key demand for the Mercosur countries, but a concern for EU farming nations such as Ireland and France.
“We are very watchful,” French Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert told French lawmakers on January 31, saying the amount of beef offered should be kept to a minimum.
A European Commission source said there was still some ground to cover.